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dir Paul King
prd David Heyman
scr Simon Farnaby, Paul King
with Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Noah Taylor, Tom Conti
release UK 10.Nov.17, US 12.Jan.18
17/UK StudioCanal 1h35
Back on the chain gang: Paddington with Gleeson and friends
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
The whole gang reassembles for this riotously enjoyable sequel, which again combines silly chaos with razor-sharp wit. And since it's made with a bit more confidence, it's an even better movie. Amid a fast pace and a simple but amusingly spiralling plot, these characters are becoming indelible. As are additions to the cast this time. And filmmaker Paul King's surreal touches are seriously endearing.
Now a fixture in his London neighbourhood, Paddington bear (Whishaw) has found the perfect gift for his aunt's birthday: a hand-made pop-up book of London landmarks. But antique shop owner Gruber (Broadbent) wants a small fortune for it, so Paddington begins cleaning window to save up. What he doesn't know is that has-been actor Phoenix (Grant) knows a secret about the book: it will lead to a treasure hidden by his great-grandmother. But he frames Paddington for the book's theft, so his adoptive family (Bonneville, Hawkins, Walters, Harris and Joslin) works to clear his name.
As before, King adds unusually colourful flourishes, packing scenes with details that reward repeat viewers. For example, read the headlines on the newspapers or scan backgrounds for amusing references. But it's the characters who make the film so much fun, as they're all deepened and pushed forward through the gyrations of the plot. This time, even the biggest slapstick set-pieces feed straight into the overall storyline, which makes the final act satisfying on unexpected levels.
Whishaw voices Paddington with the right mixture of mischief and curiosity, while animators place him in scenes with striking realism. He's such a loveable figure that he wins over even adult viewers, as do most of the characters around him. His most enjoyable interaction this time is with the blustering prison chef Knuckles (Gleeson), as Paddington literally brings colour and joy to the cell block, setting up a hysterical mid-credits finale.
Each actor is having a ball, making the most of his or her character's personal issues as they feed into the central narrative. Grant shamelessly steals the show as a hammy actor with a penchant for disguises. He is simply hilarious. But then, everyone is. And the generally goofy tone gives rise to several sublime sequences that build to the climactic chase action. The filmmakers' willingness to play everything up keeps the audience on the edge of the seat. And the snappy sarcasm in the dialog beautifully undercuts the sentimentality. Although the message about taking care of each other comes through with surprising sincerity.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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